NCIS: Los Angeles S12E05 Review


Experienced episode writer and master of darkness Frank Military wrote himself into his latest episode as a sick sociopath who’s obsessed with Kensi.  In ‘Raising the Dead’ he plays David Kessler who Kensi originally arrested in 2008, the case bringing her to the attention of Hetty and into the Office of Special Projects.  Military has written a number of Kensi-centric episodes, most notably Spoils of War (S5), An Unlocked Mind (S7), The Silo (S9) and Better Angels (S10), some focusing on her strengths, others seeking to delve into how men seek power over women.


The cold open sees law enforcement pursuing two escaped convicts, Kessler and Randy Sinclair, a former CIA operative who plotted to assassinate the president. Kessler splits from Sinclair and is caught, a move which seems and is deliberate. Sinclair is a dangerous man and Kessler tells the Secret Service he will only reveal Sinclair’s location to Kensi.


 At the start of the episode Kensi is in a positive frame of mind.  Her previous reticence about making an offer on a house has been replaced with a mindset that if they’re going into debt, they may as well make it worthwhile and also embark on fertility treatment. It is Deeks’ turn to offer words of caution, attempting to place a limit on how far into debt they should venture. It was good to see Deeks back in the bull pen, even if it was to just to pack up his belongings. It also ensured he was in the right place when Kensi was called into Ops to receive a call on a secure line. 


Here on start the mind games. Deeks is aware that Kessler is obsessed with Kensi (he sent her Christmas cards each year - reminiscent of Janvier and Callen). Deeks, against protocol but very much in character, remains on comms via his earwig and also makes his way into ops. Deeks has killed for a woman in danger, water boarded a cleric to try and rescue Kensi and of course her passion for her career almost caused him to end their relationship. In Raising the Dead, he placed Fatima (who is running this case in Ops) in an awkward position when he refused to leave. Her lack of authority, and Deeks’ of respect resulted in Fatima telling Callen, who threatened to have Deeks dragged out by fellow agents.


Kensi fights her own internal battles as she faces Kessler.  He is a creepy freak, arrogant and in love with himself. In his cell, Kensi first sees him topless and doing press ups. His reveals his mission is to hunt Kensi down, have sex with her and kill her. Despite Kensi’s best efforts, he holds the power in most of their conversations.  His mind games eat away at her - from Kessler’s deduction that she’s married to his appraisal of her body shape determining she’s doesn’t have kids; her micro-expression giving away this source of pain. At one point he says ‘touché’ which of course is Deeks’ ‘thing, and clearly hits a nerve. His personal and blunt comments reveal Kensi’s poker face and negotiating skills need some work!


 Sam and Rountree are in the field to assist the FBI in tracking Sinclair. They quickly split from the FBI after receiving patronising and arrogant comments from FBI Agent Rudolph, leading Sam and Rountree to discuss racism. The triggering comment was Rudolph calling them ‘urban’ and how to interpret this. Does urban mean they’re from LA or does it infer they’re from the ‘hood? Rountree lets the comments wash over him, choosing not to react and preferring to be the bigger man.  He didn’t even comment when Rudolph stated that FBI agents have special tracker training; Rountree of course being former FBI and Sam, a former SEAL. The message is to move forward and be better than them.


There is very little Nell in this episode which leaves Fatima to run ops and Callen to take charge. He has Kessler’s ex-girlfriend/victim Michelle, in the boatshed and is on comms with Kensi , and a camera feed into the prison.  He demonstrates his experience with  negotiating decisions that unfortunately expose Kensi’s inexperience. Another interesting dynamic is built between Callen and Michelle, as he challenges her victim status; citing rumours she was in charge of bringing young girls into their circle, and querying why Kessler sold other girls yet kept her. At one point she asks Callen if he’s sure Kessler is back in prison, a sentence which takes on another meaning upon a second viewing.


The thread running through the season to date is Deeks’ position at OSP. Earlier scenes show he is reluctant to leave the team - he still wears his earwig and is finally packing up his personal belongings.  Nell’s only appearance of the episode is to tell Deeks his position is officially terminated and he’s too old to attend FLETC and cannot become an NCIS agent. Hetty has tried everything and it is difficult to see how this scenario will be resolved and he rejoins the team. For the time being he is essentially restricted to the bar.


This knowledge and the sadness and confusion generated, signals the start of the case’s conclusion and the unravelling of Kessler’s fascinating master plan.  He is clever and has connections in Washington (with videos and pictures of people in power), including the President whom he knew as a congressman.  He wrangles a call with the President and reveals to Kensi that Sinclair never left the area. This twist was frustrating as Kensi and the team did not catch on quickly until Kessler explained in full.  The best twist came at the end when the team receive news that Kessler has been released from prison after getting a presidential executive order for undisclosed national security issues.  He played the team from start to finish, as did Michelle who it turns out, is in love with Kessler. Callen was sceptical of her playing the full-on victim card... Kessler is hell bent on revenge and Kensi’s life is now in danger.


Raising the Dead follows the higher standards set last week and again feels like a normal episode. The plot runs smoothly and at a decent pace with the team working three different angles, in three different locations. This separation is integral to the case and does not feel forced. The main frustration is how Kessler succeeds in getting inside Kensi’s head. Whether she admits it or not, Kessler has the power throughout most of their interactions.  He is suitably creepy and manipulative, perverted and deranged, and his threat to Kensi should play out later in the season.

A Virtual Scrawl

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